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Yuuzhan Vong & Kyle Katarn

SW: Legacy
by yo go re

Something old, meet something new.

Jedi Knight Kyle Katarn and New Republic agent Jan Ors help Imperial officer Pallin free a group of people on Ord Sedra who have been enslaved by the Yuuzhan Vong. But the flimsy cells in which the Yuuzhan Vong have been placed may not be strong enough to hold these cruel conquerors until morning.

The Yuuzhan Vong were the recurring villains of the New Jedi Order series of books, invaders from outside the normal Star Wars galaxy. The idea of an ongoing invasion storyline actually originated with Dark Horse Comics, but when the Star Wars novel license was moved from Bantam Books to Del Ray, that specific story was scrapped and NJO was built on its remains.

The Vong have a strict caste system, and this guy is a warrior. He's big, strong, and evil-looking. The figure stands a full inch taller than the average SW toy, making him the same height as guys like Qymaen jai Sheelal or Foul Moudama. He's wearing the typical Vonduun Skerr Kyrric - organic armor - with huge spikes on the shoulders, hooks on the ribs and arms, and blades on the calves. It's absolutely an intimidating design.

Dark Horse's original idea for the invaders was that they'd be distinctly non-human - possibly even a liquid-based lifeform, like the aliens in The Abyss. That was nixed by Lucasfilm, well before Del Rey started shouldering DH out of the picture, so the Yuuzhan Vong end up looking like pale gray bat people with a bit of Cenobite influence. Seriously: he's got big pointed ears and a flat nose, and the corners of his mouth are pulled back by wires that run to his armor.

Articulation is good, with a swivel neck, wrists, waist and hips, and swivel/hinge joints at the shoulders, elbows, knees and ankles. His only accessory is the 5⅜" amphistaff, the Yuuzhan Vong's weapon of choice. Like all Vong equipment, it's a living creature: sort of a snake that can either become flexible and used as a whip, or be a rigid staff. And just like the crab armor, it's lightsaber-resistant. The sculpt is clearly organic, but due to the limitations of plastic, it only functions as a stick, not a whip.

Neither of the characters in this comic pack come from the movies - the Yuuzhan Vong come from the books, and Kyle Katarn comes from the videogames. He was the protagonist of the first-person-shooter Dark Forces, which you can learn all about here. I link you to a video instead of just putting the info here in the review because, having never played the game, that's the sum total of what I know about it.

Kyle is a popular character, and he's only ever had one figure before, in the 1998 Expanded Universe series that also gave us such figures as Mara Jade, Grand Admiral Thrawn and the Clone Emperor. That one was an amalgam of the Dark Forces I and II designs, while this one is all II. He's got a very utilitarian look, with a cream-colored henley and blue cargo pants. Of course, that's then complemented by combat boots, a gun belt and padded armor, so he's still far from mundane.

Known as "the Chuck Norris of Star Wars," Kyle Katarn is known for being one of the few sci-fi characters ever to sport a full, bushy beard. Thing is, he didn't even have it in his first appearance! The face-fuzz didn't make an appearance until DFII, where he was portrayed in the FMV cutscenes by actor Jason Court. These days all depictions of Katarn are based on Court to one extent or another, and that includes this figure. Sure, he's a bit older, but you can still see the similarities.

The figure has a wide stance, but still stands 3⅞" tall, a bit bigger than average. He has a balljointed head, swivel wrists, waist and hips, and swivel/hinge joints everywhere else. I really do wish his legs were straighter, and that he had ankle joints - as it is, he seems to have a permanent squat. He's armed with a "Bryar pistol" that fits in the holster on his hip, as well as a blue lightsaber with an extra-long hilt. The pad on his shoulder is removable, which is good, since it's actually on backwards in the package: it's supposed to stick out in the air above his arm, not rub up against his neck.

This comic pack, number 34 by Hasbro's numbering, features a partial reprint of Star Wars Tales #21. Star Wars Tales was an anthology title with several stories per issue, so there'd be no point in reprinting the unrelated bits. The story of interest, "Equals and Opposites," was the third story in the issue and clocks in at 14 pages long.

When the notes for the planned invasion storyline were handed over to Del Rey, Dark Horse wasn't happy with the direction things were going, and decided to just stay out of it. Now that the novels are all over, DH has started an ongoing Invasion comic to play within the existing continuity, but this story is one of only two tie-ins they published back when it was still ongoing, making it a bit of a rarity.

The Yuuzhan Vong invasion was a very controversial thing when it started in 1999, but has since come to be accepted. Even for those who steadfastly refuse to soften their attitudes, this is still a good set - after all, it's been more than a decade since we had a Chuck Norris Kyle Katarn figure, and that's almost enough to sell the set on its own, for many fans.

-- 01/02/10


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